A clash between a dog walker and a gamekeeper working for the trust brought in help manage Ilkley Moor has sparked a call for clearer rules on walkers’ rights on the Bradford Council-owned moor.
Chairman of the national Moorland Association and member of Bingley Moor Partnership, Edward Bromet, this week apologised to an Ilkley dog walker for any upset caused by a recent confrontation with a keeper on the moor.
The walker, who has visited the moor daily for seven years, says a man claiming to be a Bingley Moor Partnership keeper shouted at him, ordering him to put his dog on a lead, and was offensive to him.
And he says other dog walkers have had similar run-ins.
He has called on Bradford Council to formally set out what rights the Bingley Moor Partnership and its agents have on the Urban Common of Ilkley Moor, and what rights they have in relation to dealing with the general public walking there.
The Bingley Moor Partnership won the contract last year to run grouse shoots on the moor. Part of the deal includes the partnership providing additional moorland management support to Bradford Council on Ilkley Moor, including the services of a gamekeeper.
The deal was signed in the wake of the huge week-long fire which destroyed acres of heather moorland in 2006. Bradford Council’s countryside officers are still working on nursing the damaged parts of the moorland back to health.
Dr Ian Adams, of Parish Ghyll Drive, got in touch with Bradford Council and contacted the Gazette this week after his confrontation with a gamekeeper on September 26.
He says he was shouted at by a man with two dogs – not on leads themselves – as he walked on Ilkley Moor close to a quarry near the old Keighley Road at 8.30am. Dr Adams refused to put his dog on a lead as he says he saw no need, with no sheep around and no nesting birds.
He believed his own dog was doing no harm and that walkers were allowed to let their dogs off the lead on Ilkley Moor. Dr Adams says the keeper implied that his dog could be shot if it was thought to be chasing sheep.
“I know that others have been shouted at by a man,” said Dr Adams. “Ilkley is justifiably proud of its moor and its attraction for residents and visitors with and without dogs.”
Dr Adams called on Bradford Council to make it clear what the rights of the Bingley Moor Partnership are on Ilkley Moor.
Edward Bromet said both Bingley Moor Partnership and the keeper involved are apologising for any upset.
However, he is calling for more distinct boundary markers between the Bradford Council-owned Ilkley Moor and Burley Moor, which is owned by the partnership.
Tighter rules on walkers are in place on the partnership’s own land.
Mr Bromet said: “The partnership and the keeper involved apologise for any upset caused to the visitor. With so many different laws governing dogs on the different areas, it is very difficult for visitors to know where they can go and when.
“We have asked Natural England to allow the boundary on the ground between Ilkley and Burley Moors to be made more distinct with more posts so that dog walkers coming from Ilkley Moor know that they have entered a separate area with dog exclusions..”
The partnership has also warned that farmers are within their legal right to shoot any dog they believe is frightening their livestock.
Bradford Council, meanwhile, confirmed that dogs can be walked without a lead at certain times of the year on Ilkley Moor, but reinforced the message that there is a discretionary dog exclusion policy on the adjoining Bingley Moor.
Bradford Council’s countryside and rights of way manager, Danny Jackson, said: “There is a discretionary dog exclusion policy in place on the moorland areas of Bingley Moor, which is imposed by the landowner under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act.
“This means that dogs are not allowed in the exclusion areas but they can be walked on public rights of way if kept under close control.
“Dogs can be walked without a lead on Ilkley Moor apart from during the breeding season which runs from the start of March until the end of July. During this time dogs have to be kept on a lead.”